Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Does Anything Stay the Same Anymore?

The older I get, the more I find myself fitting in the mold of an old doddering lady. I always pictured (hoped) that I would become the stylish, skinny, and upper-middle-class grandma; the one that was sharp as a tack and that everyone loved to talk to for a brief time.

Ha!  I wish I was skinny, certainly no longer upper middle class with this inflation, and while some days, I am sharp as a tack, other days I wander around in a fog trying to remember what I was planning on finishing before starting dinner.  Stylish is something I attempt about two or three times a year.  Most days I wander around in old sweatsuits, or jeans and a sweatshirt.

Yesterday we had to drive up to the city to visit our financial advisor at my husband's insistence even though I wanted to wait until after the holidays.  Hubby's dementia meant he could follow very little of what happened at the hour-long meeting, but hubby was right in that we had not met face-to-face in a few years and it did help personalize our relationship with our advisor.  This advisor is the son of our original advisor and has now taken over our account.  His father has retired and is now taking care of his wife through a long-term illness, sadly.  Hubby also was right in that we got to meet up for a quick lunch with our son and his wife.  Sadly we did not see the baby who was in daycare.

Since this filled the whole day, I moved my list of holiday and other things to do, to today.  Unbeknownst to me, hubby had volunteered to give a presentation in February as part of our Master Gardeners projects for the public.  They are given at the library.  I got cc'd in an email from the coordinator since hubby had not been responding to her emails and that is how I learned about the commitment.  I explained to him that I could not help with this before the holidays as I just had too much on my list.  

That was never going to happen as he insisted he had to start the presentation and download the photos from his phone today.  Well, there went the better part of the day!  I started to work on downloading photos from his phone (a different model and make than mine) and then have him attach them in an email to himself since my USB connection did not work with his phone.  I selected 8 or 10 photos and then asked him to go through that list and delete down to four in the attachment since the email provider would not transfer more than that.  An hour later, I thought he was deleting but he had spiraled down to somewhere else and was back selecting photos, or something as he would not show me! 

I am afraid I lost my patience as I had so wanted this day to get myself a little better organized.  I just now left him with his computer and then heard him calling someone on the phone asking how to get emails off of his phone onto his computer.  It may be my busy son who is working from home, I do not know.  But he will patiently take him through screen after screen,... perhaps.  Or he will tell him to call tonight.

Part of this anger is resentment, I know.  Resentment that he does not participate in any of the holiday preparation.  He says he "hates" shopping and therefore, never buys any gifts for anyone and has never done so even before his dementia.   He says he is not able to wrap gifts, either.  He is not a cook, but with dementia, I do not think he should be attempting any of the holiday cooking anyway.  Each year I have asked him to help with the holiday greetings that we mail, although I pull together the card design, and the list of addresses, and set him up at the table.  I have done this for years and he loves writing a message to friends and family.  Fingers crossed this year.

One would think I would be adjusting to this change by now!!  And those of you who are wondering why I am taking time to blog when I have so much to do...who knows...guess it is my therapy for the day.

Well, done venting, thank you for listening and I know...I know...the font is off again!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Are the Holidays a Wind-up?

I sit this morning in the early dark drinking my strong black coffee with just enough sweetened cream to take the edge off.  I slept over seven hours which is my regular routine. While my sleep is filled with dreams these days, I do feel rested.  Hubby is still deep in slumber and will sleep closer to ten hours.  He is an energizer bunny with projects during the day and that activity coupled with his slight dementia means he will sleep through a long night.

The home across the river and a few houses up from us already has its holiday lights along the dock.  The weather has been cold for days with just enough of a breeze to make it feel much colder.  We have been putting off stringing the outside holiday lights hoping the weather will moderate somewhat.  While we have no snow and do not face the drama and hard work the folks north of us have endured, we are older and feeling it in our bones more each year.

Today I have to plan which pies I will bring to my daughter's house for Thanksgiving.  My three grandchildren and my son-in-law do not like fruit pies and so I am left to make some cloying sweet pies such as an Oreo cookie monster.  I will probably go ahead and make a key lime pie because I have a dozen kafir limes from my tree that need to be used while they are somewhat fresh.  I will also bring a side dish of sausage stuffing which they claim to like and which I make each year with Italian sausage and lots of herbs.  My daughter is ordering the rest from the local grocery.  We seem to be doing it lighter each year.

We cannot arrive the night before since my daughter has close friends that are using their guest room as a stopping place on their way north to visit their own family for the holidays.  So, we will arrive mid-morning and quickly say hello and goodbye to the guests which we know, eat our Thanksgiving dinner with the family, and then head back home mid-afternoon because my daughter and her family are then heading north for Thanksgiving with the in-laws the rest of the weekend.  My daughter's father-in-law has a form of MS which now requires he be placed in a care facility.  It is a sad time for all.  

My son and his wife are spending Thanksgiving out of state with his wife's family this year, so our long weekend will be quieter.

Ooops, my son just texted and said they may not be heading through the nasty snow to Erie after all.  Their little baby is fighting a long-term cold.  I invited them to join us at my daughter's and then come down here for the weekend where I can wait on them.  Seems everything is up in the air.  

I am an old lady and will certainly handle it all with aplomb (that is still a word, right?) as I am not going without electricity like those in Ukraine, and I am not facing grief like those who lost a child, significant other, or brother or sister in Colorado in the recent "mass shooting", and I am not spending the day in a holding shelter like so many that are homeless or those around the world who are refugees waiting for a reprieve.  I am winding up my one precious and privileged life slowly, ever so slowly.

I look for the light because the perception of where we are and who we are and where we are going is dependent upon finding light each day.

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

And...the Rest of the Story

My prior post on our trip to Pittsburgh provided a quick overview of a city that was once part of "America's Rust Belt". Pittsburgh was referred to as the steel city because Andrew Carnegie developed a process to make steel both durably and inexpensively.  There were many blue-collar jobs available at the turn of the 20th Century.  This is also why it was called the city of bridges which are so loved; produced through locally made steel.  

The steel industry is also why their professional football team is called the Steelers.  Along with this industrial success, there came tremendous water and air pollution.  Today the air is clear to the eye, but unseen microparticulate still causes days when breathing the air is unhealthy and they struggle to keep their air healthy.

The city has moved its economy to self-driving car manufacturing, robotics, and medical advances.

While we were there we stayed in the downtown area next to the convention center.  Our hotel was on a busy street next door to a Charter school for elementary children.  We saw them walking from one building to another on a mid-day break and all were minority children.  Full of energy.  If you want to know what a Charter School is go here.

We took an Uber to the botanical gardens on the second day and upon our return mid-afternoon, the Uber driver could not drive down the block to our hotel.  We waited a few minutes and then he made a U-Turn and went around a block to drop us off just South of our hotel.  It was only a block away, so we had no problem.

As I walked to the hotel, I saw the following:

At first, I thought someone famous must be staying at our hotel which is across the street from this news photographer.  But nope.  When I asked, it seems there had been a couple of shots fired into one of the buildings across the street.  Perhaps the building between the school and our hotel?  Needless to say the local pedestrians did not seem at all concern as they wheeled their toddler into the restaurant and we asked the policeman if we could cross the red tape into our hotel...which he let us do.  City life in America is indeed strange.

Saturday, November 05, 2022

Like a Bad (But Shiny) Penny

I returned over a week ago from our Pennsylvania/Michigan car trip. The primary reason for the trip was to help my husband's stepsister celebrate her 94th birthday. They have not met face-to-face in over a decade. Blended families can be that way and since his father remarried (to my husband's mother) they spent little time growing up together. As often happens with old people, reconnection (this time hours by phone) meant they wanted to see each other as the years are getting more valuable. 

Since it was fall, I was looking forward to such a car trip and was rewarded with lovely hardwood trees and bright dry grasses and golden farm fields with traditional barns, and nice weather except for one day of rain.  

We first visited Pittsburgh for the reason that it made a nice stop on the way north.  We were there for three days.  The walk from our hotel downtown made me think that Pittsburgh was nothing but mediocre restaurants and kitschy stalls selling Steelers merchandise.  The small crowds were a bit loud and later in the day a bit drunk.  The service at the mid-cost restaurants was very good, though.  In the beginning, I was not impressed.

I was glad that I had booked a tour for each of the two full days we were there.  Driving around on our own would have meant we missed so much to say nothing of the difficulty in finding parking in a city.  The tour helped me see how rich Pittsburgh was in history and heroes.  

Mr. Rogers

Mr. Rogers of children's TV fame was a native and had his own statue on the river in downtown.  This was funded by Bunny Mellon of the rich Mellon family.  Bunny was a friend of his.  

We toured the city itself to learn that both sports stadiums were horseshoe shaped to allow fans to see the river as well as the game. I learned about the famous "immaculate reception" of player, Franco Harris, which helped the Pittsburgh Steelers win their first playoff game in franchise history in 1972. 

Historian, David McCullough, was also a native with a bridge dedicated in his honor.  

The city is really beautiful despite the few homeless tents along the river walk.  Two rivers come together which helped spur the city's growth in its early history when water was the primary form of transportation for moving and processing steel.  

Taken from the hilltop at the end of a cable car ride.

And then we traveled on to visit the famous Falling Waters house of Frank Lloyd Wright fame just outside the city.  I was not able to get reservations inside, but the outside was inspiring.  There is another architectural wonder, Kentuck  Nob, but that has to wait for another trip.

This is a very short version of the trip but perhaps wets your taste to travel to a smaller city that you do not know enough about and that has a reputation that is rougher than it deserves.

Monday, October 17, 2022

Aging and Patience (but not Birds)

Have I ever been a patient person? Well, of course, I must have been at one time because I raised two children.  You cannot survive that without some patience.  Raising children requires slowing your pace to their interests and play and work as much as you can.  Of course, with small children, you have to be able to shift gears smoothly and change the pace dramatically.  

When we first moved to this area and we wanted to meet the community ( we do not go to church) I signed up for a local Audubon class.  It met at the local community college about 20 minutes from the house in the evenings.  When my husband and I arrived the large classroom was empty except for one gray little man, the teacher.  We waited 5 or 10 minutes and then a younger, slightly attractive woman with an air of determination whisked in and sat next to us.  

With only three students the man began to discuss local birds of the area and provided some information on being able to recognize similar but different species.  It was an interesting, if not exciting, class. 

We met again the next week and the woman did not show.  Was she impatient at the pace of the class?  Was she disappointed that more people of the opposite sex closer to her age were not in attendance?  She clearly did not have the perseverance needed.

I continued to attend the 6 or so classes and am not really sure if it was due to my patience in expecting to learn something or perhaps my sensitivity to the poor man trying hard to create some community among local bird people.  The thought of him showing up to an empty classroom was harsh.

But back to patience.  In the event above, perhaps it was perseverance which is another word for patience.  

I have been married for OVER 50 years.  Is that due to endurance, grit, self-control, and leniency,  which are all synonyms for patience? Or is it due to imperturbability, passiveness, or moxie...also listed as synonyms for patience?

Love, caring, and responsibility are not listed there.

I have just spent two hours making reservations at two hotels and also making reservations for two separate tours as we head up to Pittsburgh and then on to Detroit.  It is EXTREMELY rare these days to talk to anyone when doing this.  It is all done by computers or "bots."  For this, I have NO patience.

After hours passed, I got a follow-up text from someone who texted "This is AYS with a question."  I was tired and mad and apologetically admit that I typed back "Who in the hell is AYS?"  This was followed by me texting "Ooops!"  The message that came back was "I'm sorry.  I'm a bot and I'm still learning.  Ask your questions and then navigate by selecting the buttons presented."

A bot that uses contractions and can sense when you are mad via text.  I am not ready for this new world.  Thinking about traveling less.

(And, yes, I know the font went wacky...I don't care...html is just outer space test.)

Sunday, October 09, 2022

A Quick Review on All

A brief update on it all. While my husband and I had finished two vaccinations and one booster and were waiting to schedule the new bivalent booster, we caught COVID as I wrote in the prior posts.  We reviewed our activities and the most recent was an outdoor festival where we met with people interested in gardening.  Outdoors and mostly 4 to 6 feet away (but no masks) and we talked to close to 80 or more adults and children.  This virus is very, very, very contagious and it gave me new insight into those who have health issues and must avoid the virus at all costs!

I was sick for about 5 days and felt weak for a few more.  Sick being a fever and fatigued.  No coughing, no chest congestion, no loss of smell or taste, but certainly shortness of breath.  I finally tested negative on the 7th day. Hubby was very similar, but his similar symptoms lasted 14 days before testing negative.  Yes, we are very lucky that the vaccines work!

Now we must wait for two to three months before we can get the new bivalent booster as our immune system is triggered (I guess).

We have planned a trip up north to Michigan to visit my husband's half-sister who will be celebrating her 94th birthday.  He has not seen her in decades although they talk on the phone.  We will wear masks if the family gathers in significant numbers or there is concern about our germs.  Another road trip and at least this time we should not get COVID as I hope our immune system has rallied us.  This does not mean we cannot be carriers, I will have to research.

The good thing about it all is that while I was forced to stay home I was able to complete a bunch of to-do things on that list that some of us keep and then ignore, such as cleaning out that nasty corner of my closet.    I also finished reading a number of books:  "The Personal Librarian"(historical fiction about the personal librarian to J.P. Morgan), "Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe", and almost finished "The Book of Joy:  Lasting Happiness in a Changing World."  It is about the friendship between Archbishop Desmon Tutu and the Dalai Lama.  As you can see I am bored easily and do have eclectic tastes.

I wish you all well and will now try to catch up on blogs.  I also hope to document those I cannot comment on.

but think I have figured that out.

Saturday, October 01, 2022

Are You Still Out There?

My last post was a looong time ago in the grand scheme of Blog schedules. But I have an excuse or two or three.

Yes, we did leave to go see the elk and I will post a few of those photos on my outdoor blog "Room Without Walls" but first I want to explain why there are so few photos.

We left on a Tuesday two weeks ago.  The trip up was uneventful in that the traffic got less heavy as we headed for state roads far from cities.  There was one enormous truckers intersection that was a nest of signs and turns, but we managed to navigate and head on further north to the elk preserve.

We checked into a traditional hotel that was about 20 minutes outside the preserve.  

This area wild area produced some of the best ships masts from the white pine forests in the logging area of the preserve back in the 1800s.  Pennsylvania has a 2.2 million acre forest system.  Twenty state forests are located here and comprise 13 percent of the total forest land.  No wonder it was called Pennsylvania.  There are areas where you can do any number of outdoor activities.

We checked into a traditional hotel that was about 20 minutes outside the preserve.  Various state parks intersected and crossed and wound up and down the sides of hills making the preserved area confusing to navigate and signs were sparse and hard to see but we made it up to the elk visitor center as did about 80 other old-timers like us.  We could hear the elk calling and it was dramatic and heart-stopping as dusk crept up, but the crowds got too large and we decided to find another lookout.  We left too early as we heard that several large bull elk had finally emerged into the open area to test their testosterone.

We later did see some of the smaller elk, but tired from the drive headed back to our hotel to venture out with fresher energy the next day.  That evening I had acid reflux or some indigestion (thinking it was from a fresh lemon gin and tonic I had the night before) and tried to sleep.  I woke up unrested but we headed out to explore and my acid reflux weakened.  By mid-afternoon, I felt weaker and somewhat feverish and not even in the mood for a rather over-heavy country dinner that we got at a local woodland restaurant.  I coughed all that night.

In the morning I realized I was sick and took a COVID test from the kit I had packed in my suitcase a long time ago.  Yes, I was positive!  We threw our clothes into the suitcase and checked out a day early telling them that I was COVID positive.  Hubby was feeling fine and had no problem heading home.

Sadly his old Chevy had been acting up and the dash lights and gages went blank when we were about 200 miles from home.  We had filled up on gasoline the night before, so knew we could make it the whole way.

It never rains but pours when things go wrong.  We are weathered warriors and kept our minds focused.

By the time we made it home, I collapsed in the upstairs bedroom with medicines and water and was in a fog for the next five days.  On the sixth day, I got my first negative test and went for a walk along the neighborhood on a beautiful fall day, and while feeling weak, it was the first day I did not feel shortness of breath.  I never had chest congestion, so was surprised when I would get out of breath going upstairs or across the room!  I picked some soft wild persimmons that grew along the drive and washed them and ate one small one.  Hubby was starting his illness by this time.

In a few hours, I found that my pants felt unbearably tight even though I was wearing elastic pants.  By mid-afternoon, I was in extreme abdominal pain.  It felt as if my diaphragm was being pushed into my chest and stretching unbearably tight.  I had never felt this before.  In an hour I got up and emptied the contents of my stomach (only some pinkish liquid and acid) and projectile vomited for a bit.  What on earth??  Then the next morning, I felt fine and realized that it was the wild persimmon that had caused that incident because that was really the only thing I had eaten.!  I have no idea why as I had eaten them before!  Hubby was ready to take me to the hospital, but I fought it because we both had COVID!

Then he got sick and was bedridden for days, and is still testing positive but hs more energy.  Of course, it did not help that the remains of Ian came through with 40 MPH wind and rain and we lost electricity several times last night.  Our new generator kicks in right away, even though it does not run the whole house.  Waiting for the 6ht or 7th shoe to drop.